LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racism has been the worst kept secret in sports, but his sexism and hatred of women has gone unacknowledged and unpunished for decades.
An extended 15 minute version of the Donald Sterling tape has been published by Deadspin, and it actually makes Sterling look even worse than the TMZ version.
The racism of Donald Sterling is no surprise to anyone who pays attention to sports, but even in the current story, the owner’s discrimination of and hatred for women is going unnoticed.
According to a 2012 ESPN The Magazine story:
In 1996, a former employee named Christine Jaksy sued Sterling for sexual harassment. The two sides reached a confidential settlement, and Jaksy, now an artist in Chicago, says, “The matter has been resolved.” But The Magazine has obtained records of that case, and according to testimony Jaksy gave under oath, Sterling touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable and asked her to visit friends of his for sex. Sterling also repeatedly ordered her to find massage therapists to service him sexually, telling her, “I want someone who will, you know, let me put it in or who [will] suck on it.”
Jaksy first worked for Sterling in 1993, as a hostess at one of his “white parties,” where guests dressed Gatsby style at his Malibu beach house; she eventually went into property management. Jaksy testified that Sterling offered her clothes and an expense account in return for sexual favors. She also testified that he told her, “You don’t need your lupus support groups I’m your psychiatrist.” Jaksy left her job in December 1995, handing Sterling a memo that read in part, “The reason I have to write this to you is because in a conversation with you I feel pressured against a wall and bullied in an attempt to be overpowered. I’m not about to do battle with you.” She carried a gun because, according to her testimony, she feared retribution. In February 1997, though, Sterling denied her charges under oath, and his lawyers portrayed Jaksy as unstable. Testifying in a different case six years later, Sterling said he had no recollection of the name Christine Jaksy, didn’t recall ever being involved in litigation with her and didn’t know of any woman ever having sued him for harassment.
Sterling’s testimony in another case, this one involving former associate Alexandra Castro, underscores his aggressiveness with women. When Castro, whom Sterling met in Las Vegas at Al Davis’ birthday party over Fourth of July weekend in 1999, visited his Beverly Hills office, Sterling later stated under oath that she brought a lab report proving she was HIV-negative, freeing him to continue having unprotected sex with his wife. “The woman wanted sex everywhere,” Sterling said. “In the alley, in her car, in the elevator, in the upstairs seventh floor, in the bathroom.” And he paid her for it. “Every time she provided sex she got $500,” he testified in 2003. “At the end of every week or at the end of two weeks, we would figure [it] out, and I would, perhaps, pay her then.”
“When you pay a woman for sex, you are not together with her,” he further testified. “You’re paying her for a few moments to use her body for sex. Is it clear? Is it clear?”
Sterling’s testimony in the Castro case earned him a suspension by NBA commissioner at the time David Stern, but the NBA turned a blind eye towards the Clippers owner’s treatment of women. In this regard, the NBA reflects society at large. Racism is evil, but a blind eye gets turned towards discrimination against women.
The NBA likes to think of itself as the most progressive professional league in all of sports, but much like many individuals and organizations with progressive intentions, they were not interested in discrimination against women.
The NBA should have done the right thing and booted Donald Sterling out of the league ten years ago. The NBA was well aware of Sterling’s racism and sexism, but they chose to sweep it under the rug.
The sexism is likely being ignored, because the people who are covering the Sterling story are mostly men. Sports, much like the rest of journalism remains a white male dominated field. The NBA deserves this embarrassment. They could have dealt with Donald Sterling years ago. If the NBA, like the country, really cared about discrimination and sexism, Sterling would have been shown the door a decade ago.